Romanesque architecture in Germany
Romanesque architecture in Germany
Pre-Romanesque architecture of the Carolingian period
The decline of the Roman Empire was marked by turmoil and a mass migration of peoples. As a result, the Merovingian kings, who reigned well into the eighth century, were able to contribute little to the architecture of central Europe. Trade declined and the towns were impoverished. Any building was usually constructed in wood. Only a few towns were able to retain the important role they had once enjoyed under the Roman Empire. Tours, in the west of the Frankish Kingdom, and once the sphere of activity of St. Martin, became a shrine for the Franks. In contrast, one of the most important towns in the declining Roman Empire.
A monumental style of architecture was able to revive only under the Carolingians and Charlemagne, who strove for a renewal of the Roman Empire (Renovatio Imperii Romanorum), uniting central and western Europe under his rule in a Frankish Empire. Imperial monasteries and schools promoted the cultural unity of the Empire. Initially it was a matter of experimentation, and casting about for a valid form of expression. In these earlier days many ideas were tried out, and a multiplicity of building styles developed side by side. Simultaneously there was a development of basilicas, both with and without transepts, hall churches with rectangular choirs and one or three apses, and, finally, centrally planned buildings according to the function and requirements of the client. It was the emperor and nobility, as well as clergy drawn from noble families, especially bishops and abbots, who promoted building and granted the large commissions. Of all the buildings constructed during the Carolingian period, the number surviving barely reaches double figures.
Centers of Charlemagne’s court architecture
Since 796 Charlemagne had been building his prestigious Palatine Chapel (photo, opposite). Supervised by the Frankish master builder, Odo of Metz, the prestigious building project brought in craftsmen from all over the Empire – “from all areas this side of the sea,” as it was described. In 798, just before the coronation of the Emperor, the shell of the building was completed, and in 805 the chapel was consecrated by Pope Leo III to the honor of the Saviour and the Mother of God. The central structure stood as part of four connecting building complexes on the southern side of the Imperial Palace. It was connected to the hall of justice via a long wing, halfway along which was a passageway to the Aula Regia. The core of the latter is to be found today in the City Hall in Aachen. The Aula Regia was a monumental hall with two lateral conches and a western apse. The main space of the chapel describes a regular octagon, around which is laid a sixteen-sided ambulatory with galleries. The interior of the octagon, crowned by a cloister vault of eight sections, appears astonishingly steep. Eight massive structural piers, angled in on themselves to form the corners of the octagon, define the perimeter of the central space.
The arcade openings appear as though cut out of the wall. A strong horizontal string course leads the eye from the massively heavy lower storey to the light and graceful galleries in the upper level. The large gallery openings are steeper and higher in proportion than the arcades. Within each opening there are two levels of arches supported by Corinthian columns, one level set upon the other. It is not only these spoils that link the two cities, as San Vitale in Ravenna is one of the possible prototypes for the Aachen Palatine Chapel (photo, p. 77). Built in the sixth century under the Emperor Justinian, S. Vitale is also an example of an octagonal central space on three storeys, ringed however by an octagonal ambulatory. This is not the only difference between the early Christian model and the Aachen Palatine Chapel. In Ravenna the piers are much slimmer and narrower in design, and do not give the appearance of being an integral part of the walls. The columns in the arcade openings curve back in a semicircle and give the room a wonderful feeling of breadth. In Aachen, by contrast, the effect is of a steeply-sided shaft. In his Aachen Palatine Chapel, Charlemagne strove to create a central structure in the image of the early Christian imperial chapels such as he had seen at Ravenna. This architecture was designed to symbolize the role of the king as the advocate of his people and as the mediator between the secular and the spiritual, this world and the next. Thus the square as a symbol of the worldly is combined with the circle as the symbol of the divine. The resulting octagon is regarded in number symbolism as synonymous with eternity. S. Vitale in Ravenna was not the only model for Aachen: also important was the church of SS. Sergius and Bacchus in Constantinople, which has an octagonal central room encased in a square, and was built as a palace chapel under the Emperor Justinian in the third decade of the sixth century. Particular architectural prominence was given to the west gallery behind the throne of the emperor by means of a tower-like construction, all four sides of which jut out. This tower, protruding from the facade, was a new development, conceived in the Carolingian period, but not at that time consistently exploited. Facing the former atrium, the entrance facade with its high round-arched recess draws attention to the Roman motif of the triumphal arch and lends an imperial monumentality to the facade. This entrance recess and the small pilasters with imitation classical capitals are the few exterior Carolingian forms which remain from the originally plastered exterior of the Palatine Chapel. The small pilasters were designed only as decoration and serve no structural function.
The finest preserved example of a Carolingian exterior is the gate house of the former monastery at Lorsch (photo, p. 34). Erected around 774, presumably as a three-part triumphal gateway, it marked the boundary of the atrium of the church to the west.
The Lorsch gate house looks back historically to classical antiquity, but the idea of the triumphal gateway was modified by making the three archways the same height and size, and not emphasizing the central arch in the classical manner. Use of the classical idiom is made in the columns with the entablature, the pillars with round arches, the fluted pilasters and the form of the bases and capitals. On the other hand the facing of the wall with a colorful textile-like surface is Byzantine in conception. The triangular gables of the upper floor come from the northern tradition. The combination of columns with round archways is medieval and inconceivable in classical antiquity, in which only a horizontal entablature was possible above columns. Seen in its totality, the gate-house at Lorsch is an edifice of extreme refinement. Although it stands at the beginning of western medieval architecture, it is at the same time an exquisite late-comer, an almost decadent building.
The st. Gallen monastery
The gate-house at Lorsch once stood at the entrance to a large monastery complex which has now disappeared and is known to us only through excavations and a few remains. All the other Carolingian monasteries have suffered the same fate as Lorsch; they have been converted, modified or eventually destroyed. The only way we have of conceiving of the layout of a Carolingian monastery is from a parchment plan which originated on the island of Reichenau on Lake Constance, and which is now kept in the library of the St. Gallen monastery. This monastery plan is the earliest architectural plan of the Middle Ages still in existence. The distribution of the individual buildings is in harmony with monastic life which developed according to the rule of St. Benedict. Around the church are grouped a mass of monastic buildings, small courtyards, gardens and paths. The facilities which surrounded the church were of vital importance for the survival of a St. Gallen, Collegiate Library, monastery plan, completed on the island on Reichenau in the early ninth century monastery. They guaranteed the self-sufficiency of the organization which operated not unlike a small independent state. The monastery church forms the center of the whole, and attached to it are the enclosure with chapter house, refectory and dormitory. Around this central area are grouped the domestic offices, the living quarters for the lay brothers, the guest house, stables and other livestock buildings, larders, hospital and gardens. There is a striking precision in the planning of the whole complex, above all in the church in which the square is already being used as the unit of measurement of the ground plan. This principle was fully exploited only in the following centuries. It is in this respect that the church of the St. Gallen monastery plan differs from the old Christian basilicas such as S. Maria Maggiore in Rome which had no defined system of proportion.
In the church of the St. Gallen monastery plan the nave is built up out of a series of squares, whilst the aisles measure half the width of the nave. That means that each square nave bay is equivalent to two square aisle bays . The square crossing, the point of intersection of the nave and the transept, determines the unit of measurement for the whole. The whole ground plan of the church is derived from this square, and thus each part of the building is placed in a direct relationship to every other part. Although this development of a quadratic scheme was hardly exploited in the Carolingian period, it was to form one of the most important principles for the sacred architecture of the following century.
The search for form – centrally planned buildings, basilicas, one-aisled churches
Included in the small number of centrally planned buildings of the Carolingian period are the aforementioned Palatine Chapel in Aachen, the circular Michael chapel in Fulda, erected by the Abbot Eigil between 820 and 822, and Germigny-des-Pres, built near the Loire according to the quadratic ground plan under Theodulf, Bishop of Orleans, a relative of the Emperor Charlemagne, and consecrated in 806. These isolated examples of centrally planned buildings apart, the dominant structure which developed was the basilica with a nave and two aisles, transept, forechoir bay. The aisles were mostly much narrower than half the width of the nave. The transept was not yet a balanced structure which intersected the nave at right angles creating a separate square area. This distinct area of intersection, which opened out to all four sides through four equal-sized arches, presupposed a nave and transept of equal height and breadth. This pattern was as yet unknown in Carolingian architecture. In the Carolingian style the crossing was not fully developed, that is to say, the transverse arms were much lower compared to the nave and gave the appearance of having been added later. The transepts were accessible only from the crossing via small openings. The basilica erected by Einhard in Seligenstadt-on-Main (see ground plan above), on the other hand, had a continuous transept, which was separated from the nave by a large semi-circular arch. The Seligenstadt church was however no more a true fusion of the nave and transept than was Steinbach. It is not a basilica with a nave supported by piers as at Steinbach or Seligenstadt, but a basilica with columns which has been preserved at St. Justinus in Hochst near Frankfurt. The building with its impressive reeded capitals was built in the first half of the ninth century. In addition to the pier and column basilicas, Carolingian architecture also produced simple one-aisled churches with one or three apses at the eastern end of the building, as, for example, at St. Benedict in Mals or St. Prokulus in Naturns in South Tirol. Churches with three apses were a feature above all of the Alpine region, such as Disentis, Mistail and Miistair in Graubiinden. The church of the Benedictine monastery at Miistair (illustrated right) was built around 800 from a foundation of Charlemagne. With its ceiling, originally flat and vaulted only in the late Gothic period, the church is impressive for its eastern triapsal termination. Each apse is framed with high blind arches, the middle one being somewhat larger and thus emphasized.
Conflict with Rome – the abbey church in Fulda
Between 791 and 819 an existing church was replaced by an enormous new structure under Abbot Ratgar. Nowhere else in Carolingian architecture is such a massive west transept to be found, its model being Old St. Peter’s in Rome. In the Carolingian period the abbey at Fulda was one of the most important spiritual centers north of the Alps, and as early as 751 was subordinated to the power of Rome. It is therefore not surprising that Fulda sought to emulate St. Peter’s church in Rome. It was a common feature of all basilicas and hall churches in the Carolingian period that they had flat ceilings or at least open roof trusses.
Only centrally planned buildings or crypts were vaulted. The latter had been erected as tombs since the late eighth century, mostly under the high altar. The main reason for this was the desire to create a place for the venerated relics of the saints and to make them accessible to everyone. Various ground plans were selected depending on the architectural possibilities of the particular building: a ring crypt, a barrel-vaulted, semicircular passageway such as in Seligenstadt, or a cross-shaped passage or tunnel crypt as at Steinbach (photo, left). When in the post-Carolingian period the cult of relics assumed ever greater importance, the passage or tunnel crypt was enlarged. Rooms were built with one, four or more supports. Gradually crypts developed into centers of cult worship in their own right. Impressive constructions were created such as the hall crypt of Speyer cathedral: a church below a church as it were.
The westwork – Ecclesia militans
The abbey church at Centula/Somme, begun by Angilbert, a son-in-law of Charlemagne, has none of this horizontal tranquility, but is characterized by groups of towers at the east and west ends. The tower structure of the westwork was designed either as a means of highlighting a separate devotional space for an additional church patron. Rising above the low, heavy basement, whose groin vaults are supported by piers with mock classical capitals, without transverse arches or bays, is the quadrum. This is a steep, open, central space surrounded by an ambulatory with three arcades on each side, and each with a gallery above. A semi-circular arch, opening out onto the center of the western gallery, allowed an uninterrupted view of the emperor’s throne.
This explains the large number of westworks in Saxony, which had been conquered by Charlemagne. They proclaimed unambiguously the strength of the emperor’s right to rule this area.
The westwork as a structure influenced architecture well beyond the Carolingian period and underwent many modifications in form. In 1090 the westwork of the collegiate church at Freckenhorst was completed, a group of three towers of quintessentially Westphalian character.
Early Romanesque Architecture of the Ottoman Period
Under the successors to Charlemagne, the Frankish Empire split into three: a western, a central and an eastern part. The power of the emperor was weakened and a dark age followed. Great wars brought devastation to the land, and building activity largely came to a standstill. The Hungarians engulfed The Frankish Empire from the east and from the west the Normans brought ruin and destruction to town and country. It was not until the tenth century that the crumbling empire was reconsolidated under the first Saxon emperor Henry and above all under Otto the Great. From the East Frankish Empire evolved the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and from the West Frankish Empire came France. Both parts of the Empire now began to lead a life of their own, a development which was soon mirrored in their architecture. The political and artistic centers in the East Frankish Empire shifted eastwards, to Saxony, the homeland of the Ottonian Emperors. Everywhere architecture began to flourish. Around the beginning of the new millennium most bishoprics consecrated new cathedrals, for example Mainz, Trier, Regensburg, Bamberg, Basel, Strasbourg and Constance. Today, however, there are only isolated fragments of Ottonian architecture still remaining. The buildings in the Ottonian domain now developed a style of their own. It was no longer merely a matter of imitating and reshaping Classical and early Christian antiquity, but also of finding a new, independent approach. So it was that around the year 1000 a distinctly new type of church was developed, the transept basilica with nave and two aisles and a square crossing separated from the nave and transept by four arches.
In 955, the year of the victory over the Hungarians at Lechfeld, Otto the Great commissioned the building of the cathedral at Magdeburg, which was to become the metropolitan church of the new archbishopric. Otto the Great wanted to emulate the Carolingian tradition, and, for the building of this church, he had magnificent columns with marble and granite shafts brought from Italy. After the fire at the Cathedral in 1207 these columns were built into the wall screens of the chancel as a sign of reverence for Otto the Great.
Gernrode and Hildesheim – the capitals of Ottoman architecture
St. Cyriakus in Gernrode in the Harz is the oldest preserved large building in the Ottonian style. The nunnery was established in 961 by Margrave Gero. Apart from some remains of late Romanesque cloisters, the monastery buildings have been lost. The church itself was changed in the twelfth century by the construction of a west choir and the heightening of the west towers. The exterior parts in the Ottonian style which are still preserved are hardly articulated. It is only the large round-arched windows which alleviate the heaviness of the eastern apse. The important characteristic of the architecture of this period is the lack of a plinth, although because of the changes made in the nineteenth century this fact can only be appreciated in the eastern apse. This typical early design characteristic makes the edifice appear to rise very abruptly out of the ground.
The ground plan of the church consists of a nave and two aisles with a slightly kinked axis. The originally continuous transept in the eastern part does not quite join at right angles to the nave, suggesting a certain inaccuracy on the part of the builders. Originally the crossing was not regular in shape. Today’s regular shape is the result of a nineteenth-century restoration. Access from the transept is gained via steps to the elevated choir, with its forechoir bay and semi-circular apse, and to the hall crypt situated under the choir. Two small apses in the two east walls of the transept wing complement the east choir. Compared with the architecture of the Carolingian period, the interior of St. Cyriakus is endowed with a superiority and a greater generosity of shape and proportion (photo page 40, top left). Both forms of support, the column and the pier, find much greater use, and support the arcade arches which open up the nave to the aisles. By the use of columns and piers a clear rhythm is brought into the construction of the nave wall. Halfway along the nave a rectangular pier divides the arcade into two. On both sides of the pier there are two archway openings with columns. By means of the central rectangular pier not only the wall but also the whole interior of the nave and aisles is divided into two areas of equal size. The gallery area, too, mirrors this division of space, although the openings there are smaller.
Each of the double arcades in the galleries is surmounted by a single large semi-circular arch, although the gallery storey has a different rhythm than the arcade zone. Three double arcades of the galleries correspond to one double arcade of the arcade floor. What is similar is the strong division of the wall by means of a central pier. This system of division is not continued right up into the uppermost storey, the clerestory. Its windows are set into the wall without any alignment to the storeys below. The inconsistency in the construction is strongly reminiscent of the Carolingian with its variety of experimental styles. Just as with the clerestory windows, so it is with the opening of the eastern apse, which is cut very abruptly out of the eastern wall of the forechoir. The clear and sure division of the nave walls, on the other hand, is emphatically not Carolingian. The Ottonian architecture no longer conceives of the nave walls as continuous rows of arcades. The arcading is now interrupted, the wall has a rhythmical repeating pattern and particular parts are emphasized. In Carolingian architecture it is only on the exterior that we find the tendency to stress particular elements by the projection of certain features. In the interior, the inclusion of galleries was new, and furthermore characteristic of nunneries, where the sisters of the order had special separate rooms reserved for their use. The prototype for the galleries is probably to be found in Byzantine architecture. The capitals in the arcading are still beholden to the style of the classical Corinthian column, although they are already showing a certain independence in their representation of human heads, until then an unusual feature.
Later reconstructions have interfered with the original structure of this building even more severely than is the case in Gernrode. Moreover the edifice experienced the most severe destruction in the Second World War, and today’s structure is the result of the post-war rebuilding. The basilica, which has a nave and two aisles, a double choir and two transepts, is attractive for the balance of its construction, which culminates in towers at both its eastern and western ends. Compared with Gernrode, St. Michael in Hildesheim is much more balanced in its design. This balance can even be perceived in the ground plan: transepts are added to both the eastern and western ends of the nave. As the nave and the transepts are of the same width, their point of intersection, the crossing, is square in form. The crossing square is repeated three times in the nave, making it the basis of the proportioning of the building. This regular square crossing opens out to all four sides with the same height and breadth. The nave and transepts with their crossing arches with alternate masonry layers thus achieve a completely new spatial relationship one to another. Although the essential features of this design conception were present in the Carolingian period in the St. Gallen monastery plan, it was only implemented for the first time in St. Michael in Hildesheim. Nevertheless, the fact that the side aisles are considerably broader than half the width of the nave shows that the quadratic concept has not been carried out in its purest form. The corner points of the three ground plan squares in the nave are marked by piers. Each pier is connected to the next by three semi-circular arches resting on two columns. By this arrangement of piers and columns, an alternation of supports is achieved, which in this form, pier-column-column-pier, is known as Saxon alternating supports. The alternation in the form pier-column-pier, on the other hand, is known as the Rhenish alternation of supports after the area where this form mainly occurs. The inscriptions on the imposts, each with the names of the three saints, are intended to convey the idea that the saints, symbolized by the columns, support the kingdom of heaven, symbolized by the church. This symbolism is also to be found in the Magdeburg cathedral of Otto the Great. By means of the alternation of piers and columns the space is broken down into regular patterns and split into three areas.
Here it is different from Gernrode, where the nave wall is divided in two parts by a single pier. In Hildesheim a horizontal reglet runs above the arcade and above this a smooth area of wall ascends up to the clerestory, whose windows are also not aligned to the arches below. A flat ceiling closes off the evenly proportioned nave.
The few remaining capitals from the time of Bishop Bernward are so- called cushion capitals in clear simple forms, which no longer hark back to classical tradition, but which represent a new development in Ottonian architecture.
The incorporation of Carolingian architectural concepts in a new idiom How the exterior was incorporated into the articulation in the Ottonian period is impressively demonstrated by the westwork of St. Pantaleon in Cologne (photo, p. 38). St. Pantaleon was begun in 964 by Archbishop Bruno and consecrated in 980. The steeply rising central spaces are surrounded on the west, south and north sides by galleries. The space opens out east towards the nave in a high wide semi-circular arch which is built in alternating layers. In St. Pantaleon the Carolingian idea of the westwork finds its Ottonian descendant.
Apart from the basic concept of the westwork there are no other traces of the Carolingian. The traditional westwork was completely translated into the Ottonian. This is evident from the exterior which reveals a desire for a new articulation. Each storey of the facade of the westwork is articulated by means of lesenes, which are connected to one another by friezes of semi-circular arcading. These small semi-circles, which are laid on the wall like a flat relief, appear somewhat lacking in boldness. They simply protrude from the wall, not on consoles as became customary later. The blind articulation and the arcade frieze represent the beginning of medieval architectural articulation. The exterior is thus endowed with a fine relief which can be used to decorate all the way round in a new idiom.
Carolingian designs are also employed in the former convent church in Essen. The ground plan describes three sides of a hexagon, around which are grouped various small, randomly placed rooms in the ground and gallery storeys. Based on the Aachen model, the piers with their inwardly angled faces have arcade openings. Above these, and separated by a cornice, there are high semi-circular openings with columns inserted in them, as in Aachen. Similar to St. Michael in Hildesheim or St. Pantaleon in Cologne the arch intrados are built alternately. A light semi-dome spans the apse. The return to the architecture of the Aachen Palatinate Chapel was deliberate. This is shown not only by the whole composition of the west choir, but is also evidenced by the small details such as the classical Ionic or Corinthian capitals.
A further, indeed even clearer, exploitation of the Aachen architectural conception is to be found on the Upper Rhine. Although both buildings, Aachen and Ottmarsheim, have similar interiors, the detail at Ottmarsheim reflects the Zeitgeist of the Ottonian, and has abandoned any vestiges of the classical idiom. The columns have cushion capitals, and the individual vaulted sections are clearly separated by transverse arches. The impression of space has become much more balanced and tranquil. The central space and ambulatory have been given a strong interrelationship. Overall, the building appears much simpler and more cube-shaped.
Towers and groups of towers
It was not only at Ottmarsheim that towers were built during the Ottonian period, but also at many other churches such as the small former monastery church of St. Cyriak in Sulzburg and the St. Luzius church in Werden. Under Abbot Berno the west block of Reichenau-Mittelzell was built after 1006, a quadratic tower structure, which is articulated by long lesenes and semi-circular arcade friezes. At Trier cathedral under Archbishop Poppo around 1040, the towers and apse were combined to form a west block. The result was a complex, richly articulated structure with four towers and central gable, in which the huge apse is framed by solid four- cornered towers with round staircase turrets attached.
One of the most impressive towers is surely that of the Ottonian cathedral of Bishop Meinwerk in Paderborn. According to the latest research the whole west end was developed around 1220, and not in the late Ottonian period, as had previously been assumed. However, the tower clearly reproduces a previous Ottonian tower in structure and outer appearance. Above all it had a symbolic function, advertising the importance of the bishop’s church far out into the surrounding countryside. This mighty edifice dominates the skyline of the town, almost threateningly proclaiming who was the ruler over its inhabitants.
The towers, which rose high above their surroundings, were able to send a powerful and visible message. Dominating their area, they were considerable status symbols, proof of who had the greatest influence in a town. The citizens, by whatever means they had become rich, erected a tower as a sign of independence from church domination of the land.
High Romanesque architecture from the Salian period
The architecture developed under the Ottonian Emperors was further consolidated under the Salians. The great creative act of Ottonian architecture, the development of a characteristic ground plan, was taken further. Indeed, a new independent style evolved, which clearly differed from the Ottonian. The problem of vaulting was one of the most important architectural challenges to be overcome. Never before or since have buildings of such monumentality been constructed as in the course of the eleventh century under the Salian emperors or at the monastery of Cluny in Burgundy. In the architecture of these two important sacred buildings of the eleventh century, Speyer cathedral, started by the Salians, and the abbey church of the Burgundian reform monastery at Cluny, there is a clear expression of the struggle between papacy and empire over the problems connected with the Investiture Contest. Speyer, an edifice of unprecedented monumentality, became the embodiment of unlimited imperial power, a testament to the self-esteem of the Salian emperors. The cathedral was the expression of the idea of Christian world domination, an expression of a style of rule, which, according to Stefan Weinfurter ie characterized by “the all-pervading power of the Empire, the creation of imperial unity with a firm hand, the strict control of the imperial church and the increased magnificence of its rule through the dignity of the Emperor.”
The imperial cathedral at Speyer – a pioneer of vaulting in Germany
According to Ordericus Vitalis, Speyer under the Salians became the “Metropolis Germaniae,” one of the most important places in the medieval German Empire. Four Salian Emperors and two of their consorts found their last resting places in the cathedral. The monumental Speyer Cathedral was begun between 1027 and 1030 under Emperor Conrad II and was completed under Henry IV. However, in 1794 the cathedral was devastated again, and in the early nineteenth century was even earmarked for demolition. It was only saved from destruction by a decree from Napoleon. In the nineteenth century Heinrich Hiibsch carried out its restoration, replacing the western end with the westblock which still stands today and which is faithful to the original Salian conception.
New research has established interesting information about the history of the building of the medieval sections. The oldest part of the church, begun between 1027 and 1030, is the east crypt, to which the towers flanking the choir and the foundations of an initial transept were added. By around 1035 the above-ground construction was probably underway with the completion of the sanctuary and transept. Between 1035 and 1040 the piers of the nave, initially designed to be short, were erected close together, and the outer walls of the aisles and the barrel-vaulting of the chancel were constructed. Only after 1045/47, after the death of Conrad II, was the nave extended to its present length under Henry III. At its consecration in 1061 the nave section, the west front and the towers must already have been completed. Until recently it had been assumed that the original Speyer Cathedral was designed only to have vaulting in the aisles, but the latest research suggests that the building begun by Conrad II would have had a huge transverse barrel vault, spanning almost 45 feet, if technical problems had not prevented its execution. The planned transverse barrel vault with windows at its base was modeled on the monastery church at Tournus in Burgundy. The reason for the architects’ failure was the excessive width of the nave. As the execution of the stone barrel vaulting was unsuccessful, the building is likely to have been spanned with a wooden vault, for only cross vaulting and relief would have closed off the interior in a manner which was convincing and appropriate to the design and construction of the nave walls.
Problems with the unstable underlying ground in such close proximity to the Rhine must soon have led to damage to the building, as Emperor Henry IV was forced to undertake fundamental renovation of the cathedral soon after its consecration. The bishops Benno of Osnabriick and later Otto of Bamberg were appointed to carry out the imperial commission. In the second phase of building the choir and transept were rebuilt, although the original dimensions were entirely preserved. The major achievement was above all the successful vaulting of the nave. Strong lesenes were attached to the wall projection on every other pier to carry the barrel arches of the vaults. Broad semicircular columns with Corinthian capitals were in turn placed on the lesenes and from these sprang the transverse arches dividing the individual vaulted sections. The nave is thus divided into six bays, each nave bay corresponding to two aisle bays. This relationship of the nave to the aisle bays is known in German as the “gebundenes System.” To the eastern side of the nave are attached the transept, the forechoir, flanked by staircase turrets, and the semi-circular apse, and to the western side is the westblock, rebuilt in the spirit of the Salian design concept.
Compared with St. Michael’s church at Hildesheim (photos, pp. 40-41), Speyer Cathedral has walls of unprecedented solidity and weight. The walls with their strong relief are richly modeled and powerfully developed in all dimensions. Piers, which are terminated by a simple cornice, carry the nave arcading, over which the clerestory windows are for the first time brought into alignment. Even the windows of the aisles are on the same axis. Such consistent articulation had been absent in Ottonian architecture. This arrangement of windows along an axis implied a move towards a more vertical form of articulation and a decline in the significance of the horizontal.
The large, flat semi-circular arch recesses which surround the arcades and windows also emphasize the vertical articulation. These arch recesses are repeated thirteen times in the nave. On the piers between the individual bays there are semicircular projections which rise from plinths with Attic bases. The semicircular pillars terminate in cushion capitals from whose entablatures spring round arches framing the flat blind recesses of the wall. By dint of this system of articulation the nave walls take on a relief of measured and sculptured volume. In this scheme the blind recesses serve to highlight the steepness of the upwardly striving nave.
Modeling of the walls – blind recesses and dwarf galleries
Despite the small alterations undertaken, the east parts of Speyer Cathedral are still amongst the most impressive examples of medieval architecture in existence today. Responds which articulate the apse rise above a high plinth. The responds support semi-circular arches above which there is a dwarf gallery, an uninterrupted row of small column arcades which run in front of a passageway just below the edge of the roof. The dwarf gallery resumes above the transepts and the nave walls. Here, however, it is divided rhythmically by sections of wall which mark the bay separations. Previously a central portal opened out from the nave into the west block. It was not simply cut out of the wall, but was recessed and narrowed towards the center. This recessed portal segmented the wall into several layers and served clearly to emphasize the solidity of the masonry. This was the first use of such a recessed portal, but this design subsequently appeared on almost all larger churches.
It is unclear whether there was a similar structure on the site of today’s late Hohenstaufen west choir. This ground plan arrangement, similar to a crossing, suggests a transept, but in fact the two aisles are continued on both sides. Each of the five bays in the nave corresponds to two slightly transverse rectangular bays in the aisles. Groin vaults span the aisles. Originally the nave was similarly vaulted, but the Salian groin vaults were replaced by Gothic rib vaults. At Mainz vaulting of the nave was part of the plan from the very conception. This is clear from the clerestory windows, which are not aligned with the arcades. Instead they are clustered in pairs and thereby take account of the vaulting. The nave walls of Mainz Cathedral are articulated by shallow round-arched recesses which rise above the nave piers and extend to just below the clerestory windows. On every other pier there is a semicircular pilaster, which supports one of the transverse arches of the nave vaulting. In comparison with Speyer Cathedral the articulation is much flatter and relief-like, and as Twin-towered fronts – status symbols of great bishops’ and monastery churches.
In 1015 a Salian reconstruction of Strasbourg Minster was begun under Bishop Werinher. Parts of the choir and the underlying spacious and monumental hall crypt are all that now remain of this building. The long, colonnaded basilica had its origins in early Christian buildings, but its length corresponds to today’s Gothic construction. Remains of Salian walls in the Gothic west front suggest that already in the eleventh century there was possibly a twin-towered front with a portico in between. The Cathedral of Our Lady at Constance, and Basel Cathedral begun under Emperor Henry II, both episcopal churches, likewise had twin-towered fronts. This type of front was characteristic of cathedrals and great monastery churches.
From around 1025, at about the same time as the construction by Conrad II of Speyer, the cathedral church of Limburg-on-the-Haardt was begun. The church, whose west front also had a twin-tower, was completed in 1045 and is today an impressive ruin (photo, p. 51). This type of chancel is already to be found in Reichenau-Oberzell and Constance Cathedral. In both buildings a semi-circular apse was covered by a rectangular wall. Later the flat chancel end was to become one of the characteristic features of the so-called Hirsau School of Architecture. The side aisles of the monastery church of Limburg-on-the-Haardt were not vaulted as at Speyer, but closed by flat ceilings, thereby remaining truer to the tradition of the monastery church. There was a conscious decision not to adopt the modern architectural form of the vault. The eastern parts of the church are richly articulated. Shallow recesses, showing less relief than in Speyer, rise above a plinth. Both its rich exterior articulation over a plinth which runs around the building, and the twin-tower front, make the monastery church of Limburg-on-the-Haardt a typical example of Salian architecture.
After a catastrophic fire the monastery church in Hersfeld was rebuilt from 1038 onwards. Destroyed in the eighteenth century, it is amongst the most impressive monastery ruins in Germany. The basilica with nave and two aisles has a projecting Roman transept in the east with side apses, behind which the nave extends to form a long choir with a semi-circular apse. The nave was separated from the side aisles by nine round-arched column arcades, whose arches rested on heavy cushion capitals. In the west an elevated choir rose up, its raised apse situated above a rectangular entrance hall. The entrance front and west choir were perhaps combined here as a reference to the old concept of the westwork. The nave of the church had a flat ceiling.
That is only one of several features of an older style present in the Hersfeld church. Features which look back to previous ages, such as the Roman transept, are not just explained by the re-use of parts of the old walls, but are a conscious borrowing from the past. Just as in Hersfeld, the cathedral in Strasbourg had a long projecting transept, which was reminiscent of the early Christian basilicas. The concept of the colonnaded basilica is furthermore very much in the early Christian tradition. Even though many of the features of the Hersfeld monastery church may be borrowings from the past, it is nevertheless very much a church of its time, and a creation typical of Salian architecture. Isolated motifs which refer back to the past do not hide the fact that the essential overall nature of this architecture is one which addresses us in large forms which clearly relate to one another.
Rhenish School of Architecture – triapsal choirs in Cologne and the Rhineland
In particular, the old bishop’s seat of Cologne developed into a significant center of architectural creation with St. Maria im Kapitol as one of the principal artistic highpoints (photo, above). The construction of this church stands at the beginning of what became known as the Rhenish School of Architecture. The most striking feature of this church, which suffered heavy destruction in the Second World War, is its ground plan which was conceived with an unprecedented completeness of form. Of particular note is the so-called triapsal choir, which is attached to a nave and two aisles. In this building there is not only an apse at the eastern end, but the semi-circular apse is also repeated in the south and north instead of transepts.
The ground plan is therefore trefoil-shaped. The three semi-circular apses are integrated by means of an ambulatory joining them together, so that the apses and crossing all appear part of a united spatial whole. This ambulatory leads into the side aisles of the nave. It may be that the trefoil pattern created by the three apses is a reference back to the Roman burial site, and yet the unity achieved by the continuation of the ambulatory into the aisles is above all a Salian concept which seeks to integrate everything into one context. Here the transept has developed into part of the choir and has become a fundamental part of the sanctuary. The aisles and the ambulatory of the triapsal choir are groin vaulted, whilst the three arms of the cross in front of the apses are barrel vaulted. The crossing is crowned by a sail vault, a type of vaulting later often found in the Rhineland. The nave originally had a flat ceiling. The vaulting existing today dates from the late Romanesque period, or represents, as do many other parts of the building, a reconstruction after the terrible devastation of the war. In the choir there are columns with cushion capitals with a more cube-shaped and taut form compared with those in Hildesheim. The western side of the church of St. Maria im Kapitol probably dates from an earlier period and, with its rectangular projecting structure and stair turrets placed at the corners, is reminiscent of St. Pantaleon (photo, p. 38). Despite war damage, the Salian wall articulation is still to be found in the lower parts of the choir, where a high plinth is terminated by a powerful cornice. Above the plinth, shallow recesses articulate the wall. The parts of the wall above this are attributed to the Hohenstaufen period. A sense of free space and a melding of the individual parts of the interior characterize this building, which has a very early example of a choir ambulatory. This concept of the choir ambulatory was borrowed from France (St. Martin in Tours) and was only taken up again much later at St. Godehard in Hildesheim.
A golden age of late Salian architecture on the Upper Rhine
The transept is only apparent from the exterior as it is obscured by the chapels built in the interior. The nave extends, uninterrupted by the transept, right up to the choir with its flat termination. The main choir is flanked on both sides by side chancels, which open out onto the former with double arcades, a feature borrowed from Cluny. The lower level of the main choir and side chancels are articulated by high, steep blind arcades. Deep windows have been cut into the stone of the blind recesses. Each layer has been worked out of the wall. Towards the middle the articulation is accentuated with the central window slightly higher and broader than the lateral windows, producing the effect of a delicate rhythm. The area above the upper windows is from the Hohenstaufen period, and dates from as late as the second half of the twelfth century. The individual parts are fine and created with the greatest care and attention. In Alsace this type of masonry is also to be found at Marmoutier (Mauersmiinster), where one of the latest Romanesque western ends has been preserved.
Hirsau School of Architecture
The main centers for this reform of the Order in Germany were the Black Forest monasteries of Hirsau and St. Blasien, and in Switzerland the monastery of Einsiedeln. The full effect of the reform became felt in the second half of the eleventh century, and its spiritual ethos was reflected in the architecture by a return to the early Christian. This was evident in the construction of Cluny II, where at the end of the tenth century arcades of columns were erected in the style of the early Christian basilicas. It was in the same spirit that parts of the Hirsau reform monasteries were designed and built for the liturgy, albeit with some regional variations. From 1059-1071 a basilica with nave and two side aisles, twin-tower front, transept and chapels in echelon was built in Hirsau over the tomb of St. Aurelius. Only the nave of this church is still extant. Its choir termination with three echeloned apses has been uncovered and recorded in excavations. In the twelfth century the church was rebuilt, and columns and heavy cushion capitals added.
A new monastery complex including the St. Peter and Paul church was begun under Abbot Wilhelm in 1082 and consecrated in 1091. Nevertheless the ground plan of the church is still clearly visible. St. Peter and Paul was another example of a colonnaded basilica with a nave, two side aisles and transept with small apses constructed on the east side. A square choir bay with lateral choirs on both sides adjoined the crossing. The lateral choirs represented an extension of the aisles across and beyond the transept. The main choir had a flat termination. In the nave, the crossing square provided the basis of the proportioning of the edifice. After the crossing the columns of the nave do not resume immediately, but to the west of the cross-shaped crossing piers there is a further pair of columns on a cruciform ground plan. In the area of this first nave bay the aisles were barrel-vaulted, whilst the other areas of the church had flat ceilings. This pronounced bay in front of the crossing is peculiar to the Hirsau churches, indeed it is a typical characteristic of other buildings based on the Hirsau style such as Alpirsbach in the Black Forest, All Saints in Schaffhausen or Paulinzella in Thuringia. The spatial discontinuity of the first nave bay can be understood as the architectural expression of liturgical functions. It was here that the area reserved for the monks, namely the choir, ended. The easterly choir area, which included the transept and crossing, was where the monks took part in the church service, and is known as the “chorus maior.” The “chorus minor” adjoins the latter in the direction of the nave. In churches of the Hirsau School, it is recognizable by the piers in the nave. The “chorus minor” was probably also marked off from the nave by a sanctuary rail. The “chorus minor” was a part of the Cluniac church layout and was determined by the liturgy, for it was here that the monks not involved in the canonical office participated in the service.
The monastery churches of Alpirsbach, Allerheiligen (All Saints) in Schaffhausen and the monastery ruin in Paulinzella are impressive expressions of the spiritual ethos of the Hirsau Reform Order and its school of architecture. These churches exemplify the monumental architecture of this order. Decorative details are almost entirely dispensed with. In their steep proportioning, these box-like naves correspond to the spatial conception of the great imperial cathedrals of Speyer and Mainz.
Common to all church architecture of this period in Germany is the sheer steepness of the inner spaces, together with a monumentality which is the very essence of Salian architecture. The spiritual tension between the emperor and the papacy is all-pervasive in this age. It finds its clearest expression in the opposition of two buildings such as the cathedral at Speyer and the monastery church at Alpirsbach. Both buildings represent highly sophisticated architecture, but are quite different in character. Speyer is the monumental imperial claim to authority down to the smallest detail and decoration, whilst Alpirsbach, Schaffhausen or Paulinzella encapsulate the greatest possible clarity and simplicity.
Late Romanesque architecture in the Hohenstaufen age
The Staufen period includes the whole twelfth century and the early thirteenth, and its artistic masterpieces are to be found in Germany and Italy. The nobility and the knights were now beginning to be the patrons of culture. In Germany the artistic centers continued to be on the Rhine, as they were during Carolingian and Salian times. It was in Cologne, the middle and upper Rhine, as well as the Saxony of Henry the Lion that the pioneering buildings of the new style were developing. Initially still very much rooted in the Salian style, it was not until the later stages of the Staufen period, the early thirteenth century, that the Staufen style reached its peak in an intensive dialogue with the architecture of French vaulting. The exterior structures are often dominated by tower groupings of equal weight at the eastern and western ends, and the fronts are articulated with a much greater sense of depth and three-dimensionality. The main elements of articulation are small pairs or rows of arches, which in their turn are spanned by larger arches. The lines of the walls are broken down by means of blind arches and rows of columns which are recessed inwards in several individual stepped layers.
Maria Laach – the embodiment of a Staufen monastery church
The atrium in front of the west choir, moreover, is an addition of the thirteenth century. The basilica has a nave with five transverse rectangular bays, two side aisles each with five rectangular bays, and double transepts. This differs from the system where the proportions are based on the crossing square as module. The church was designed right from the beginning to incorporate vaulting, although the vaulting of non-square bays did cause problems. The vaulting has the appearance of a longitudinal barrel, into which curved undersurfaces for lunettes have been cut. Compared with Speyer Cathedral, the interior space is noticeably heavy and low. Arcade arches and clerestory windows are cut abruptly into the walls with no articulation in between. Characteristic of the early period of Staufen architecture is the sturdy, powerful elevation and the strict uniformity of the walls. Both choirs have been consciously designed to stand out with their massive, clustered, towering structures. Their Staufen character can be clearly seen in the round-arched friezes which do not simply project from the walls as in Salian architecture, but rest on small corbels. There is an obvious pleasure
here in enlivening the surface with small decorative detail. Each individual shape or group, whether lesenes, round-arched friezes or blind arches, is integrated into a unit of great strength and tension.
Masonry as a plastic material
This fondness for groups of towering structures is taken further in Worms Cathedral, which was built shortly after 1120-30 (photo, p. 58). In the east there is a transept, which continues into a quadratic forechoir bay with a narrower, semi-circular apse. The east apse is not visible on the exterior, because the east choir is closed off by a straight wall and flanked on the edges by round towers. In the west the nave ends in a polygonal choir termination, which is also flanked by round towers. The latter lie in the line of the side aisles. The polygonal choir termination was a new feature, as until this time there had only been semicircular apses or flat terminated choirs. The polygonal choir is an architectural feature originating in France which only became widespread
in Germany at the beginning of the thirteenth century. The immediate prototype for Worms is taken to be the choir of Basel Cathedral. Despite the relatively short period of construction, the interior of Worms Cathedral is not uniform, but this does not detract from the effect of space. Its elevation is based on the imperial cathedrals of Speyer and Mainz. The interior space is dominated by the massively heavy piers and the great quadripartite rib vaults which spring from torus capitals with richly molded cornices. Angular and rounded responds afford the wall a strong relief. The influence of Alsace and Burgundy is evident in the east choir with its stone band rib vaults, and in the later molded band rib vaults of the nave. It is in the west choir that the latest stage of Staufen architecture is to be found. Here masonry has been developed to its maximum potential. The stonework has evolved into a substance which can be sculptured, and in which individual parts are modeled. Even more striking is the fondness for decorating breaks in the wall and for covering uniform parts of the exterior wall with ornament.
The surface of the building is characterized by a skilful play of light and shadow, brought about by the strongly sculptured execution of the individual parts, particularly the dwarf galleries. For all that, the wall is not supposed to appear lighter in effect, rather the power of the wall was to be emphasized. It is an almost unarchitectural late style which is embodied in the west choir of Worms Cathedral and is equally charac-
teristic of the west choir of Mainz Cathedral. The sculpturally modeled walls are broken up by means of recesses and galleries, penetrated by windows, but nevertheless retain their solidity. These examples of late Romanesque architecture date from a time when the great high Gothic cathedrals were already being erected in France.
Centers of Staufen architecture in the southern upper Rhine
In Alsace, one of the heartlands of the Staufen emperors, there were many new churches built in the twelfth century, common to all of which was the use of rib vaulting. A characteristic feature of the architectural landscape was the contrasting relationship between the interior and exterior. Whilst the interiors of the churches in Alsace appeared relatively heavy and compact, the exteriors were rich in articulation and ornament. Twin- towered fronts, already present in the Salian period, were developed further in the twelfth century. Under the influence of the cathedrals of Strasbourg and Basel, twin-towered fronts were built in Selestat, Lautenbach or Guebwiller. Parallel to this was the popularity of crossing towers, a large number of which were erected in Alsace, for example the multi-storeyed, octagonal crossing towers in Selestat, Haguenau, Rouffach, Guebwiller and Rosheim.
St. Peter and Paul in Rosheim was constructed in the third quarter of the twelfth century and is acknowledged as one of the most beautiful Staufen churches in Alsace. The basilica with nave and two side aisles, transept, choir bay, and semi-circular apse is very richly articulated and ornamented on the exterior. A multiple molded plinth, blind recess and round-arched friezes over lesenes covered the whole of the exterior. The transverse facade in the west and the main apse are particularly heavily ornamented. The building has a high octagonal crossing tower, which was renewed in the Gothic period. Just as in Guebwiller or Selestat there are human figures on the crossing tower on the slanting parts near where it meets the roof. The interior is characterized by a strict uniformity of the walls. The nave is rib-vaulted whilst the side aisles are groin-vaulted. Cruciform piers and squat columns on very high plinths with heavy, block-like, ornamented capitals alternate along the arcade.
The Staufen eastern parts of Strasbourg Cathedral are of monumental size. Its east choir and transept were built over the old Salian ground plan from the late twelfth century onwards. The semi-circular apse, which joins directly onto the transept, is encased in a rectangular wall as at Worms. High plinths support huge piers, which in turn carry the high vaults and crossing dome. Despite their pronounced steepness, the east parts seem to weigh heavily on each other and are characteristically Staufen in style. They exhibit a heavy monumentality, typical of the late period of Staufen architecture.
Many influences coincide in Basel, as the upper Rhine tradition here merges with the influences from France and Italy. In this way something distinctive has emerged: a heavy, powerful space which is typical of the Staufen architecture of the upper Rhine. The latter is indebted to Basel for its Romanesque east parts.
Bound by tradition – the centre and east of Germany
In 1237 the imposing new Staufen cathedral at Bamberg with its many towers was consecrated. Whilst in the east choir late Romanesque forms are able to express themselves freely and the masonry is articulated with typical sculptural richness, the western choir has adopted forms from the early French Gothic. Semicircular in its lower area and polygonal above, the richly articulated apse has wide windows on each side of the polygon. In the molded window intrados there are colonnettes with astragals winding around the arches. The hollow moldings of the window intrados are filled with spheres and rosettes. These small, corporeal forms of decoration model the walls and lend great expressive power to the building.
Around 1140 the Liebfrauen church in Halberstadt was rebuilt, although the older parts in front of the nave which resembled a westwork were preserved. The building exhibits some architectural motifs, which are indebted to the Hirsau style of architecture, such as an east choir with chapels in echelon, or the pier arcades, which do not join directly to the crossing, but are separated from the crossing arches by a short strip of wall. The basilica with nave, sides aisles and transept has a square forechoir which is accompanied by side choirs. Semi-circular apses are attached to the main choir, the side choirs and the east walls of the transepts. The walls of the nave with its flat ceiling rest on piers which have an almost imperceptible rhythm. Both square and rectangular piers are used, creating a very subtle alternation of supports. Moreover, there is very little wall articulation. Only the east parts of the church are vaulted. The still persisting traditions of Ottonian architecture, such as the alternation of supports and flat ceilings, are combined with southern German influences, such as, for example, in the eastern parts of the church with the architecture of the Hirsau School. That this variant of southern German architecture should be emulated is significant, since it is this monastic architecture which kept alive the flat ceiling basilica. The same applies to the collegiate church of St. Servatius in Quedlinburg which used the same Saxon alternation of supports seen at St. Michael in Hildesheim.
The basilica of St. Godehard in Hildesheim, built from 1130 to 1172 with a nave and two aisles, also uses the double alternation of supports of St. Michael. Of particular architectural importance is the choir, since this was the first time in Germany that an ambulatory with apsidal chapels (chevet) was built surrounding the choir. The sources of inspiration for this ambulatory are to be found in French architecture, where the chevet had been known since the tenth century. St. Godehard remains a unique example of this in Germany. It was not until the Gothic age that ambulatories of this type were used again, and then it was under the direct influence of French architecture.
Late Staufen Architecture on the Rhine – the interaction with France
The articulation is generously endowed with responds and round-arched friezes, and the walls are sculptured in their style. The imperial authority is expressed in the classical ornamentation, which, as in Speyer Cathedral, was created by Lombardian stone masons.
The ground plan is based on the Godehard chapel in Mainz cathedral, although St. Klemens is cruciform. Towards the east, in the direction of the apse, the interior opens up on both floors to form a broad space.
The rich surface is much more highly developed than, for example, Maria Laach, another church of the same period. The shaping of the windows on the upper level of the building has acquired a style of its own. The windows are no longer simply round-arched, but quite unusual in their forms, almost mannerist in style, and quatrefoil or fan-shaped. In the later architecture of the Lower Rhine such window shapes are commonly taken up again and variations created.
The exterior articulation of the minster at Bonn (photo, p. 66) shows further development and perfection. In the interior the east choir appears low and heavy, whilst the nave in contrast is graceful and well-lit. This is achieved by the addition of a blind triforium between the wide-spanned arcades and the tripartite clerestory windows. The triforium is offset from the wall, but cannot be used as a passageway. The doublelayered effect of the two lower storeys is continued in the clerestory, where small columns with pointed arches stand proud of the wall. As regards the construction of the wall in the minster at Bonn, the inspirations gained from Sainte Trinite in Caen are modified to a late style, almost over-fragile and thin in its construction. This pattern of three storeys, consisting of arcades, triforium and clerestory, became widespread in the religious architecture of the Rhine. A frequent alternative to the triforium was the gallery, used for the first time in St. Ursula in Cologne. Gallery storeys from the late Staufen period are also to be found on the Rhine at St. Gereon in Cologne, Bacherach, Andernach and Neuss.
There was a further development at the collegiate church of St. George (photos, pp. 65 and above), which had been begun in 1215, consecrated in 1235, but not completed until the middle of the century. Both types of elevation, triforium and gallery, were combined by creating four storeys, a design inspired by the early French Gothic style at Laon. The triforium storey was inserted between the galleries and the clerestory. Overall, however, the quadripartite elevation appears heavier and more solid than its French forerunner. Of particular note also is the charming landscape setting on a rocky outcrop which was used to maximize the striking impact of this church with its multiple towers.
These architectural ideas attained their full flowering in St. Aposteln and St. Martin the Great (photo, p. 64) in Cologne. The architectural origins of these sacred buildings are to be found in the Cologne tradition, as is evident in both churches; for example, the idea of the trichora (cloverleaf pattern) from St. Maria im Kapitol was taken up again. The former collegiate church of St. Martin the Great was. built in place of the church burnt down in 1150 and was consecrated in 1172.
The three conch apses with their short barrel-vaulted forebays are grouped around the square crossing, over which the massive tower rises with its four accompanying slim octagonal staircase turrets. Before the extension of the cathedral towers in the nineteenth century, this tower dominated the skyline of Cologne. The nave and side aisles appear as a mere annex in comparison to the huge eastern end with its high towers. Round-arched blind arcades divide the conch apses into three storeys. Dwarf galleries over a plate frieze, which run all around the eastern parts, unite the different parts of the building. The richness of the articulation increases towards the top of the building. Characteristic of these generously articulated Cologne churches is their two-layered wall construction, which shapes both their interior and exterior. The heavy walls are thereby afforded their necessary solidity, but at the same time appear light. This effect of lightness is increased at the crossing and towards the ceiling by the use of recesses or passageways behind arches. This kind of wall articulation was influenced by Norman architecture and lends a grace and elegance to the interior space which is unusual in Staufen architecture.
The influence of Henry the Lion. North German brick Romanesque architecture
The center of Lower Saxon art was Brunswick, the stronghold of the Guelph Duke Henry the Lion. The cathedral in Brunswick was rebuilt between 1173 and 1195 in a uniform style. With its monumental dignity and austerity, and heavy, almost unarticulated external appearance, the building seems somewhat antiquated. The cross-shaped basilica, whose proportioning was strictly based on the crossing square, was designed for vaulting throughout. Its nave has an alternating system of supports, although its intermediate supports are not columns, but piers without responds, which appear simply as part of the walls. Thus they combine with the barely lit clerestory and the barrel vault to produce a heavy, almost cavernous interior. This powerful but heavy interior is complemented by an exterior constructed from bare, undressed stone, and relieved only by a few lesenes or round-arched friezes. Northern reticence in Brunswick and southern opulence in Worms both go to make up the very wide spectrum of style that is Staufen architecture.
In the north of Germany brick became the favorite building material in both religious and secular architecture. After initial use of dressed stone, brick was used in the Premonstratensian church in Jerichow, begun soon after 1144. This was a building with a flat ceiling and ascetic, restrained forms in the spirit of Hirsau (photo, right). Since the late classical period the techniques of brick building had not been used in their pure form, until the Premonstratensians and Cistercians resorted to its use because of the lack of dressed stone in the north.
The architecture of the Cistercians
The secularization of the old ideals of the Cluniac order, mostly noticeable in the extravagantly splendid abbey at Cluny, prompted a group of the monks to found a new monastery in Citeaux in the twelfth century where life was to be led according to strict ascetic monastic rules. The complex with its main and auxiliary buildings is not uniform in its style or age. The center of the monastery is made up of the church and the adjoining enclosure, that is the areas which were reserved for the monks. Slightly apart from this were the domestic offices, gardens* cemetery and infirmary. The whole monastery was enclosed in a circumvallation (circumference wall), closing it off from the exterior. The basilica with nave, aisles, transept and flat terminated choir was originally covered by a flat ceiling similar to that in the church of the Cistercian monastery of Bebenhausen. The vaulting was added later.
Eberbach in the Rheingau exhibits the same type of ground plan as Maulbronn, although the proportioning of the building was based on the square crossing, and the building was groin vaulted. The church of the monastery, founded in 1135, was built between 1150 and 1178, and has remained intact and without any subsequent alterations, apart from the addition of Gothic chapels in the side aisles. Rectangular responds, which rise up from corbels which are set in the wall at the height of the imposts, carry the transverse arches between the groin vaults. Each bay has two clerestory windows, a clear indication that right from its initial design the building was designed to accommodate groin vaulting. The characteristic features of Cistercian design are evident in this building, namely, very simple articulation, a relative lack of decoration and the clarity and simplicity of the interior. Particularly characteristic of the Staufen period is the low and heavy interior and the uniformity of its surfaces, which breathe an austere grandeur.
Secular Romanesque architecture
Since the early Middle Ages rulers of the empire had preferred palaces as places of residence. The German expression for these residences, “Pfalz” also originates from the Latin “palatium.” These imperial or royal palaces with their generous halls, roof-covered promenades, chapels and atria were widespread throughout the empire, as at this time the emperors led a peripatetic life with no fixed seat of government. These palaces would all be visited in their turn over the years. The domestic offices attached to the palaces would provide for the needs of the emperor’s court. The arrangement of the buildings relative to one another has its origins in Roman, Byzantine and Germanic prototypes.
The imperial palace of Charlemagne in Aachen and the extent and nature of its functional buildings is already well known in all its essential features. At Bodman on Lake Constance and the Carolingian palaces at Ingelheim and Nijmegen, excavations have revealed useful information about their structure and function. The imperial palace at Goslar (figure, opposite) was built in the first half of the eleventh century under Otto III and Henry III; the hall structure partly dates from this period. Extensive restoration work and reconstruction in a romantic style in 1865 account for its present appearance.
The ruin of the imperial palace at Gelnhausen, first mentioned in 1158, is regarded as one of the most beautiful and artistically important imperial palaces in Germany. Frederick I received it before 1170 as a fief. Several German emperors are known to have resided here, and on occasions it was used to hold the imperial diet. The ruin was restored in the nineteenth century.
The principles of castle building were determined by the nature of the landscape. In south and west Europe there was the attempt to achieve as standard an overall design as possible. In northern Europe, in contrast, particularly in Germany, the castle was an organic part of the landscape, as it were, and its defensive capability was adapted to the prevailing topography. The ring castle, the rings of which consisted of walls and buildings, would be situated on a site which was protected equally on all sides. On flat terrain the castle would be surrounded by a moat, whilst on a hill top it would easily be protected by the steep slopes. A keep, which usually stood separately, would tend to serve as a last refuge rather than first defense. Therefore the upper floors of the main towers were sometimes built as residences. The ‘palas’ would house further residential quarters, including a hall and a number of living chambers which could be heated. The construction of castles was therefore one of the most significant artistic achievements of the Staufen era. In the eleventh century castles still served almost exclusively functional purposes. It was only in the twelfth century that large independent types developed. The starting point had been the “Turmburg” (tower castle) which was comparable to the “donjon” in France. In the Staufen castle individual parts were added to make an extended group. Designed as round, square or polygonal, the keep represented the fortified central part of the Staufen castle.
Ceremonial rooms and living quarters were located in a separate building, the ‘palas’. It was generally situated in the innermost castle courtyard under the protection of the keep and the circumvallation (circumference wall). As the castle did not serve residential purposes alone, but was above all intended for the representation of the court, the design and layout would be arranged and decorated to fulfill these functions. The chapel and the chambers which could be heated and used as living accommodation complete the composition of a typical castle. This basic structure was standard for all castles, whether imperial palace, ministerial castle, or the castle of a sovereign prince. Beyond the functional requirements there was a striving towards clear ground plan forms, although this was always subordinate to topographical considerations. In this context a distinction may be drawn between two types of site: those sited on high ground and those situated on low-lying ground. Those on hill tops or rocky ledges represented the most widespread type. Some might be situated on the summit, whilst others would be sited on the slope. In the latter there would be a ditch in front of the castle, with a huge wall shielding the castle and residential quarters. The summit was of course the most secure site for a castle. The ‘palas’, residential and domestic buildings would be situated in the inner side of the rectangular or polygonal circumvallation, the shape of the latter being dictated by the nature of the site. The embossed stone masonry, which lent the buildings their monumental and defensive appearance, is very typical of most Staufen castles. The castle at Landsberg in Alsace was constructed around the middle of the twelfth century and is largely walled in embossed stone.
The upper floor of the ‘palas’ ruin has a series of four small round- arched windows and an oriel with a round-arched frieze. The ground plan at Ulrichsburg at Ribeauville has been completely adapted to the mountainous site. Extended in the twelfth century with the addition of, amongst other things, a keep, it ranks as one of the best examples of Staufen castle building.
Until the early twelfth century there were few towns in Germany. They mostly owed their existence to a bishop’s seat or important merchant settlement. These towns had grown up over long periods of time without any deliberate planning. This changed at the beginning of the twelfth century, when for the first time since antiquity new towns were founded and erected according to clearly designed plans. The most important princely families of the time, the Staufer, the Guelphs, and the Zahringer, founded new towns to consolidate their territories and endowed them with rich privileges. The most impressive towns were those founded by the Zahringer, which included
Freiburg im Breisgau, Villingen, Murten and Fribourg. It was not until the middle of the twelfth century that the Staufer followed their example with towns such as Schwabich Gmiind, Reutlingen and Haguenau. In their turn the Guelphs created Ulm, and Henry the Lion founded Liibeck.
The Zahringer towns were planned in the shape of a large oval, surrounded by strong walls with gateways and towers. A wide market street, or two main streets intersecting each other at right angles, determined the layout of the town. At the ends of these streets stood the town gates. Parallel or perpendicular to the main streets were the side streets, behind which in turn lay the tradesmen’s alleys. The main streets were of course used to hold large markets. Finally, space was left between the houses for the church and its graveyard.
Amongst the oldest are the so-called Romanesque house in Bad Miinstereifel (photo, left above), which dates from 1167/68, and the former hall courtyard in Oberlahnstein from 1160/70. Also of interest is an imposing stone house on the pilgrim route at Obernai in Alsace, with groups of double windows with trefoil arches, which dates from around 1220. Yet another example is the so-called Romanesque house (late twelfth century) at Rosheim in Alsace which is a tower-like construction with embossed corner-stones. The Yellow House in Esslingen, a four-storey late Romanesque tower with a square ground plan, was constructed around 1260. Its embossed stone facades boast windows with pointed arches. This was proved by employing scientific techniques to determine the age of the wood used in their construction.